Amazon Nabs Riz Ahmed Hearing-Loss Drama ‘Sound of Metal’ After TIFF Raves

Directed by Darius Marder, Amazon is reportedly planning a theatrical release for the film about a drummer coping with hearing loss.
sound of metal
"Sound of Metal"

Amazon Studios has reportedly acquired the rights for Darius Marder’s “Sound of Metal,” winning the US rights over other interested studios including Neon. (Via Deadline.) The Riz Ahmed-starring film will get a limited theatrical release, with Amazon eyeing an awards push for Ahmed’s performance. Ahmed plays a heavy metal drummer who must cope with a vastly different reality as he suddenly loses his hearing. The movie premiered at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival to rave reviews, with IndieWire’s Eric Kohn praising Ahmed’s performance as Ruben and writing that Marder’s narrative directorial debut featured “the best use of sound design in recent memory.”

“Sound of Metal” also stars Olivia Cooke as Ahmed’s girlfriend and bandmate.

Amazon previously acquired two TIFF titles before they screened at the festival: “The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão” (Cannes’ Un Certain Regard, where it won the top prize) and “Blow the Man Down,” a seaside noir from Danielle Krudy and Bridget Savage Cole — illustrating some buying restraint by the streamer compared to its Sundance buying spree earlier this year.

Though Amazon’s Sundance pickups “Late Night” and “Blinded by the Light,” fell short of box office expectations this summer, the reported theatrical plans for “Sound of Metal” show the streamer isn’t giving up on the theatrical-first model.

Following his post-World War II documentary “Loot,” Marder went on to co-write the Derek Cianfrance-directed “The Place Beyond the Pines.” In addition to directing “Sound of Metal,” Marder also co-wrote the film alongside Abraham Marder. It was initially conceived as a collaboration with Cianfrance a decade ago, Deadline reported. Marder told IMDb at Toronto that the idea was born out of a real band and he wanted to explore a relationship between bandmates and a “story of sound in three acts.”

Ahmed told the website that in order to perform in the film he had to “look in some pretty dark corners” of himself, as well as research the deaf community and learn American Sign Language.

“This community is one we don’t often see, and I think something that we’re really proud of in this film is presenting deafness as a culture and as a community and not as a disability and that’s certainly part of Ruben’s journey,” Ahmed said.

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